Therapy That Works...

Are Teenage Girls Getting More Violent? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss why teenage girls are becoming more violent - click here.

Depression or Dehydration? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, June 04, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on YouTube.com explain why you don't need to buy energy drinks, all you need is a drink of water - click here.

Millions of Americans spend countless dollars every year trying to perk themselves up. Whether it’s through a pill, a coffee at the neighborhood coffee shop, or an energy drink, most of us are looking for a silver bullet to pick us up out of our slumps and give us the energy to finish the day.

According to a recent study, you may be wasting your money on drinks and pills. If you’re dehydrated, you may show higher signs of depression, anxiety, fatigue, and loss of vigor. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your work day and you might save yourself a load of coffee money.

SOURCE:

Men’s Health, Apr 2012 digital edition

Profile of the Ohio School Shooter - By Chris Gearing

Monday, February 27, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss the tragic Ohio high school shooting - click here.

With the tragic news of a school shooting at an Ohio high school this week, many Americans are shocked that shootings continue to occur in a post-Columbine world.

Since the tragic Columbine shootings in April 1999, psychologists have assembled a list of common denominators between school shooters.

Teenage Males: They are usually Caucasian males between the ages of 11 and 18 with the average age being 16 who are engaging in their first act of lethal violence. Boys between the ages of 13 and 19 commit about 1/3 of violent crimes.

Rural Settings: School shootings usually occur in the rural or suburban areas outside larger cities. The kids are from a blue collar or middle class backgrounds.

Seasonality: Time of year has a lot to with this kind of crime with most of them occurring between December and May (usually in the Spring).

Tough Home Life: Family background is usually highly dysfunctional and attachment to the parents has been compromised in some ways. The family often looks fairly normal to the community and people are often surprised that the child becomes a murder. Discipline is overly harsh and applied inconsistently.

Cold Blooded: Premeditation is a central part of the crime. Smuggling a gun or guns into a school takes forethought and cunning. There is a plan that has been carefully constructed somewhere along the way. Acquisition of firearm—almost always from the home-- is necessary as is the requisite clothing to hide the firearms as the enter the school.

What would push a teenager to engage in this type of lethal crime against his peers?

Vengeance is the primary motive for almost all of the school shootings and again, this teenager has a history of being bullied and being socially isolated. The second motivation is to achieve notoriety.

The shooters are often perceived as nerdy and physically unattractive and are the common targets of ridicule from other children. Anger and resentment build up over time.. Suddenly there is a precipitating event that forces them to lose control and to lash out in a murderous rage.

If the target is a school official, then a teacher or a principal has had to take disciplinary action against the child.

If the targets includes peers, those who are deemed responsible for the torment are targeted almost exclusively. Many of the kids who have been shot in the past are the more popular or successful kids who are perceived as having wronged the shooter at some point in time.

What are these kids like emotionally and psychologically?

Socially Withdrawn: Most of the time, school shooters are emotionally immature, isolated and socially withdrawn. The emotional centers of the brain are not fully connected to the logical analytical parts of our brain that tells us that “no injustice is worth taking someone else’s life.”

Violence Unites Them: If they do have friends, the friendships generally revolve around their dark view of the world—militaristic, violent, “dog eat dog” kinds of views that justify their social isolation and bond them to one another. They enjoy bragging about their interest in violence and killing and are fascinated by the weapons of violence—guns, bombs, knives, and online or media depictions of violence or death.

Hypersensitive to Criticism: Cognitively these kids are very rigid and simplistic in how they view others. They don’t examine their judgments of others and are quick to assume that others are criticizing them. They are distrustful and view themselves as victims of others. Hypersensitivity is common and they anticipate rejection. They do not usually trust adults.

When does the child cross the line to violence?

Prior to the crime, the child begins to:

  • Feel justified to kill
  • Perceive few or no alternatives
  • Believe that the consequences will be worth it

Here are some warning signs if you are concerned about your child:

Learning to predict violence is the first step to preventing violence. Remember that most of the time, these crimes are well rehearsed. The school shooter fantasizes about revenge against those who are perceived to have harmed him. They often have protracted mental and behavioral rehearsals of their acts of violence in which they carefully select the victims, the time, location, means of killing and how it will play out.

Remember that their violence is calculated--it is not a crime of impulse or passion. It is a crime of intentional revenge.

Here are some warning signs of school shooters:

  • Lack of Conscience
  • Angry Outbursts
  • Depressed, Sullen Behavior
  • Tendency To Follow "Leaders" No Matter What
  • History of Oppositional Behaviors
  • Actual Threats—Written or Spoken
  • Past Acts of Violence
  • Access to Weapons
  • Past Suicide Attempts
  • Family History of Violence or Bullying
  • Cruelty to Animals

Sources:

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

The Classroom Avenger by James P. McGee Ph.D. and Caren DeBernardo, Psy.D.

Drug Bust At Texas Christian University - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How big a problem are drugs on college campuses?

Drug addiction in general is increasing exponentially. Over a ten-year period, the number of Americans abusing prescription drugs increased seven times faster than the increase in the U.S. population.

Getting High on Campus: Forty nine percent (just under 4 million) of full time college students binge drink and/or abuse prescription and illegal drugs on campus.

Dependency: Just fewer than 2 million students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse and dependence—2.5 times the 8% of the general population.

Invisible Epidemic: We have been in denial about the severity of this problem. Alcoholism has received the most media attention in the past but those rates have not risen. However, prescription drug abuse has become the most underreported drug abuse problem in the nation. Unfortunately, it is now an epidemic.

Why is prescription drug abuse growing at such alarming rates?

Access to Drugs: We have more effective drugs that are more vigorously marketed to the public ($60 billion annually spent on marketing by pharmaceutical companies). Approximately three billion prescriptions are written annually, and we are all encouraged to take pills to make things better.

Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drugs: We have grown more casual in self-medicating. We also borrow prescriptions from friends and families. One study found that fifty-six percent of pain relief abusers acquired the medicine from a friend or relative for free (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2007). An estimated 48 million people have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in their lifetimes (National Institute of Drug Abuse) – that’s almost 20% of the U.S. population!

What are the signs that a college student may be abusing drugs?

Remember that addictions are progressive—what you see today started months ago. Here are a few signs to look for:

  • A change in your child's friends
  • Long unexplained periods away from home
  • Lying and Stealing
  • Deteriorating family relationships
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Obvious intoxication such as slurred speech
  • Decreased school performance
  • Relaxed and/or a euphoric state

What are the effects on a college student’s future?

We know that young adults are extremely vulnerable to experiences—good and bad—during this pivotal time. The brain in early adulthood is still expanding and refining itself and is not fully mature until age 26. When you introduce drugs or alcohol into a developing brain, lifelong addictions can get a foothold. The dependence on the drug replaces the cultivation of sturdier, more resilient ways of approaching problems in life. Emotional intensity that compels them to escape into a “high” is the solution.

What would you recommend for parents who are concerned about their college age child?

Discuss the Problem: Challenges such as alcohol and drug abuse must be part of the family conversation. Kids who learn about substance abuse from their parents have much lower usage rates than those whose parents never offer to talk about it.

Parents are the Keys to Prevention: Live the lesson you are teaching your child. Do not drink and drive, smoke marijuana or misuse your own prescription drugs and then wonder why your child is confused. Practice what you preach without exception.

High Expectations: Today’s parents are often afraid of expecting the best from their kids. They worry about overtaxing their child with expectations and demands. But on the basics of responsible living--like don’t use drugs-- you have a responsibility to be clear, absolute and emphatic. Step up and make your son or daughter understand the rules.

Source:

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

Do You Have A Bad First Name? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, January 20, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia on YouTube explain what to do if your first name is holding you back in life - click here.

A recent study in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science found that your first name could have unintended ill effects on your future life! The effects were felt in everything from job searches to the dating scene!

With findings like that, many people are wondering how to change or downplay their names. I have seen three trends that work:

Abbreviate: Abbreviate your name and make it more common and traditional in social settings. For example, you can use your initials or part of the name as a handle.

Adopt Your Last Name: Use your last name as your nickname or use a similar name such as substituting Jack for John. People who have pleasant last names can shorten it and add a “y” to the end – names like “Sully” and “Scotty.”

Give Up on Your Name Entirely: The final option is to change your name completely -- sometimes people despise their name so much that they lose the name. They legally change the name to one that reflects who they are now. If a dramatic name change is done in adulthood, it can be unsettling for the parents. However, putting up with a name you can’t stand is unfair in the long run.

Sources:

Parent Magazine

“Generation Me” by Jean Twenge

“Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Why Your First Name Is More Important Than You Think - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on YouTube describe why your first name may be more important than you think - click here.

A recent study in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science found that your first name could have unintended effects on the rest of your life! The effects could be felt in many different arenas from your love life all the way to your job search!

Here’s why your first name may be more important than you think:

Typecasting: Remember that your name is the first impression that you make on someone. It sets the stage for how people will view and treat you because like it or not -- people have preconceived ideas about names, both good and bad.

Generational Names: Because names are so generation based, many people have preconceived notions about you based on what generation your name came from. For example, Barbara gives a very different impression than Emerson.

Target of Bullying: Kids can be cruel and children with odd names often have an extra burden in the classroom and on the playground. Your name can also affect how you feel about yourself. If you always have to explain your name, it can be socially challenging.

Job Prospects: Highly unique names can make it even harder in the job market. Research finds that there is a prejudice in responding to job candidates based on their first names, usually from some personal experience with someone who shares the name.

Source:

Parent Magazine

“Generation Me” by Jean Twenge

“Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Teens On Fad Diets Can End Up Gaining Weight! - By Chris Gearing

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dr Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 describing why fad dieting may actually make American children GAIN weight - click here.

Why do our adolescent girls struggle so much with their weight?

Images of Perfection: Previous generations of girls have always struggled with body image but these issues are at an all time high. Our girls are inundated by images everywhere of physical perfection especially with our celebrity culture. The demands for excellence on girls have gotten worse over the past two decades leading to weight concerns in girls as young as six years old. But channeling energy into appearance and away from normal developmental tasks can disrupt, if not sabotage a young girl’s self esteem and ability to tolerate stress.

Helicopter Parents: The current generation of parents is full of parents who are well meaning but who are micro- managing their children's emotions and lives. Being "ordinary" or just “okay” has lost its allure for too many of today's parents who insist on their child not experiencing the ordinary problems of living. Frustration, rejection and even failure seem to be harder on the parents sometimes than it is on the kids. They project their own anxiety onto kids who just need to figure it out sometimes on their own. Over focusing by the parent makes the girl more anxious and the weight is one more report card she has to face.

Mothers with Eating Issues: Many mothers have struggled for years with their own weight so those issues are easily taught and inherited.

Epidemic Rates of Anxiety and Depression: Girls get depressed at twice the rates of boys when they enter puberty so eating problems flourish when mood disorders hit. Depression hits a full decade sooner than it did a generation ago and it re-occurs 50% of the time.

Why would girls get into this kind of fad dieting so early in life?

Trying To Compete with Other Girls: Many girls are influenced not only by the images in the movies and on TV of women, but also their peers. Many parents are paying for plastic surgery and liposuction for their children these days, and many young women can’t keep up. They instead turn to fad or extreme diets to drop the weight.

Get Slim Quick! Many young women find fad and extreme diets alluring. They just have to suffer for a short amount of time to be beautiful – they can tough it out for that kind of reward. But many girls don’t realize what kind of serious physical effects these diets can have on them and how on-again-off-again dieting is actually very unhealthy.

Why don’t fad diets work well?

Short Term Weight Loss: Many fad diets may actually work, but what girls fail to realize is that once they are off the diet – they will usually gain back the weight with a vengeance.

Lifestyle Change: Without a change of lifestyle and most importantly, without a fundamental change in attitude, any diet that works will only work while you are on it. The only way to truly lose weight and never find it again is to adopt a completely different, healthy lifestyle that combines food, rest, and exercise.

What can parents do to help their children?

Positive Example: Model what you want them to see and be. Mothers especially are incredibly influential for their daughters so be careful what behaviors you are modeling. What you say and how you handle yourself emotionally and with food will set the gold standard for your daughter.

Educate Your Daughters: Most kids don’t truly understand nutrition and positive eating habits. Make sure that they have all the information and understand how what they eat truly affects their bodies and their lives. Introduce healthy foods that are lower in calories but filling, and encourage him to drink a ton of water! Teach your children what is good to eat and how to stay away from foods that will pack on the weight.

Positive Eating Messages: Encourage positive attitudes toward your child's new self-image. Do not shame or embarrass him, but focus on the new body you can build together.

New Self-Soothing Techniques: For many kids, food is an escape from anxiety and stress. Emotionally coach your child to deal with his negative emotions by talking them out. Remind him that setbacks are temporary and that he can cope with whatever he is facing. Overeating no longer has to be a coping mechanism when you are more emotionally resilient.

Distract From Hunger: Begin to spend time with your child to develop new coping skills that will distract him from his hunger. For example, before dinner, go out for a brisk 20- to 30-minute walk. It is a great appetite suppressant and will increase his endorphins.

Source:

The work of Dr Martin Seligman

"Generation Me" by Jean Twenge

Could Baby Names Negatively Affect Your Child? - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia on CBS 11 discuss whether a baby's name could negatively impact them - click here.

How To Stay Focused At Work - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Having trouble staying focused when you need to finish something at work? There are hundreds of products and strategies that claim to help, but you don’t need to spend money to perk yourself up. Here are a few quick tricks to help your regain focus at work:

Whistle While You Work – Classical music was found to help keep the mind focused and clear if it was played at low levels. The repetition and structure of the music helps keep your mind from wandering, which helps you maintain your focus. Imagine a car that is driving on the highway instead of free wheeling out in the woods.

Peppermint Patties – Peppermint, whether tasted or smelled, was found to increase alertness and memory in office workers. It acts as a stimulant for your nervous system without any of the negative side affects. So if you feel yourself starting to slip, pop a peppermint and keep on chugging.

Coffee Up – Coffee is a classic pick-me-up, but recently it has gotten a bad reputation. However, there may be many other benefits besides the hour-long boost to cognition, problem solving, and concentration. Coffee has more antioxidants than any fruit or vegetable, has been shown to prevent diabetes, certain types of cancer, and may even reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s! So pour another cup without feeling so guilty.

Source:

Various articles at MensHealth.com

Is Reality TV Bad For Your Daughter? - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss how reality TV affects your daughter's development - click here.


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